Why I hate first person

I’ve made no secret of it. I hate first person stories. It might seem harsh, but I’m serious. I have a visceral reaction when I discover that a novel is written in first person. Something happens to me, akin to a heart attack, or that moment when you realise you’re about to puke up and there is nothing you can do to stop it. It is a very rare thing for me to read past the first page of a first person story, or the first sentence. In some cases I won’t make it past the first word.

I’m not saying that first person stories are wrong, or bad, just that I personally (generally) do not like them.

You may think it odd, therefore, that I am currently writing a story in first person.

That’s because it is odd.

I have had to take a step back to analyse why I hate first person narratives, and why I can manage to write in first person without spewing all over the floor every time I put a sentence down (writing is hard enough as it is without having to go through that sort of nonsense). Do I think my writing is better than anyone else’s? Not particularly, arrogance is not the issue here. There is a reason though and I believe I have finally figured it out.

It is very easy to write badly when writing in first person narrative. There is a lot of debate going on lately regarding show vs tell writing, and whilst I could argue that some “tell” writing is acceptable within a story, I feel compelled to put a limit upon its usage. Let’s say somewhere between 1-7% of a story should be written in a tell style. There are always moments where a short, simple “tell” sentence is better placed than a slightly longer “show” version, for dramatic effect, or for simplicity. You might feel that percentage should be higher, but I would argue this is down to preference, and in any case, the higher you go with a percentage of “tell” writing, the worse a story will be.

What does this have to do with my aversion to first person? Everything.

When writing first person it is inevitable that an author will fall into the tell style. And you know what? It’s dull. God is it mind-numbingly, ass-fartingly, brain-meltingly dull to read.

I woke up.

I started my car.

I felt hungry.


I DON’T CARE. If a story begins with the word “I”, then I will not read it. The exception to this rule is if you can follow the “I” with something, unique, amazing, and interesting.

I am an eight legged bear from the planet Zongrikon with a pet dwibble named Stanley and I am currently attempting to blow up the planet Earth.

Alright, I’m in. I’m hooked. Give me more. Don’t tell me “I woke up”. Every human being who has ever lived as at some point woken up. Big woop. If you are going to open with a tell sentence then it had better be a fucking amazing tell moment or I won’t bother reading the next sentence.

You might think I’m harsh, but you know what? I work two jobs, and I have a family. My reading time is limited to a half-hour slot before bedtime when I’m able to harness enough brain power to still concentrate, or the half-hour bit during my daughters swimming lesson on a Saturday where I can look away and concentrate on something else, safe in the knowledge that she won’t drown. I don’t have the time or patience to read dull shit from a writer who can’t be bothered to give me interesting stuff from page one, sentence one.

Stories are all about the author’s voice, and it is tough to be unique in the literary world. It’s even tougher to pull it off in first person. But it’s not impossible provided you put a little more thought into the work.

I have this reaction every time I write an “I” sentence in my book. It makes me wanna hurl, which is probably a good thing, because it’s forcing me to do better. If only more authors suffered from this odd affliction, there would be a lot more well-written first person stories in the world.

In any case, if you like to write first person, then go ahead. I won’t stop you. As a new member of the First Person Perspective Club, I shouldn’t be so judgemental I suppose.

But if you’re going to write, at least have the decency to write to the best of your ability and try not to litter your manuscript with throw away “I” sentences.




p.s. I realise the irony in the fact that this blog post is in first person, so no need to point it out… however, that’s kinda the point of blogs, so … yeah.

Writing Fanfiction

Today I'm lucky enough to have a great guest post by the formidable Jason Pere. So without further babbling from me, here we go...


Greetings, My name is Jason Pere. I am an author based out of Eastern Connecticut. First of all I would like to express my most profound gratitude to E.C. Jarvis, for allowing me to use some of her bandwidth. I hope that you all enjoy my guest post about the very special genre of Fanfiction.

I will briefly tell you a little bit about myself before diving into the subject of what it is like for me to navigate within the imagination of another creative mind. I have some self-published and collaborative work out there in the literary world. My most recent accomplishments are my debut Dark Fantasy title “Calling the Reaper: First Book of Purgatory” and my first Children’s book, titled “Sir Percival and the Nightmare”. I write a lot of different material spread across all sorts of genres but Fantasy is my favorite kind of story to tell.

I am also a huge dork. I love all sorts of games, from video games to board games to card games. There is one particular card game that I should mention. It is called “Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn”, produced by Plaid Hat Games and created by the incredibly talented Isaac Vega (http://www.plaidhatgames.com/games/ashes). I was introduced to Ashes and the world of Argaia, where the saga of the Phoenixborn takes place, in the August of 2015. I rapidly fell in love with the game and I came to find that there was clearly a highly complex and developed mythos to the world behind the cards but alas virtually none of it was in the public realm. Instead of waiting for Plaid Hat Games to be a little more forthcoming with the story of Ashes I decided to take matters into my own hands a put my creativity to work. There was just too much raw potential for some epic plots, cultures, history and characters to develop. I could not sit idle. I just felt like I had to contribute to the greater story. I called my Ashes fanfiction, flASH fiction.

That is really where my love affair with Fanfiction began. Since last September I have posted a weekly fiction piece to the Team Covenant Gaming Blog, detailing my own imaginative goings-on in the world of Ashes (http://teamcovenant.com/category/ashes-rise-of-the-phoenixborn). It has been a wonderful experience and because of my stories I have been able to meet some new people, make some interesting connections, hone my creativity, pick up the odd fan or two and even influence a dorky hobby of mine. I love writing the stuff even when it’s a struggle for each line of text and I do not plan stopping anytime soon.

So, Fanfiction, what is it? How is it different from plain old fiction? How do you write it?  Well I will tell you my interpretation of what Fanfiction is. I think the genre gets a bad rap and when people hear the term Fanfiction, they immediacy conjurer up the image of some guy who is far too old to still be living at home, lurking in his parents basement, wearing a t-shirt for his favorite fandom and writing a new episode of their most beloved, yet long canceled science fiction space opera TV show. Yes, this type of diehard super fan exists but I will not fault them for being zealously passionate about something near and dear to their heart.

I think that we are all far more acquainted with Fanfiction than we realize. When I was growing up I knew it was pretty common for me to wonder what happened to the characters after the end of one of my favorite movies, or speculate, what if the protagonist had made some different choices. I think that is something that a lot of people wonder and fantasize about. Fanfiction is just a matter of writing those fantasies down. In its most simplistic state Fanfiction is about telling your own story within someone else’s world.

I think that there are two main kinds of Fanfiction. The first is reminiscent of historical fiction in a way. The author will have a clear point of departure. They will use certain elements of an established world and doctrine but make some radical changes from the principle lore. For example, an author of this sort of Fanfiction might dive into George Lucas’ Star Wars universe but postulate “What is Luke Skywalker had never met Obi-Wan?” They could go on to tell a different kind of space epic where Luke becomes the willing apprentice to Darth Vader and fights for the Empire. This sort of story borrows elements from another creator but it is unabashedly divergent fiction. The author of this sort of story will acknowledge that their concoction exists outside of accepted Star Wars lore. That being said, I sure wouldn’t mind exploring who Darkside Luke might have been.

The other sort of Fanfiction is a little trickier. This variety of storytelling is where the author writes material that could pass for cannon doctrine within the confines of a greater fictional work. This is what my flASH fiction series is all about. There are a lot of things to take into consideration with an approach to this sort of Fanfiction. The biggest thing to take into account with this kind of story is continuity with the principle source material. An author will need to make sure that their timeline and characters match up with what has already been established. The will also have to tackle the challenge of portraying characters in a way that allows them to stay in character. Someone writing Indiana Jones Fanfiction could not have everyone’s favorite archeologist come across a Boa Constrictor in his travels and keep his cool, for example.

It can be daunting to become the creative overlord of an established icon in a given franchise. A good way for someone else to play in another creator’s world without upsetting the landscape too much is to introduce some new characters of their own design. Using this technique helps a Fanfiction author interject some of their own personal flavor into the cannon doctrine while still holding true to established elements of the original material. Some new content is going to have to be introduced at some point in order to tell an engaging story. A Fanfiction Author will have to take some liberties and risks, it is just a matter of making them believable. For me good Fanfiction is a happy marriage of tradition and innovation.

I think that the best thing an aspiring Fanfiction writer should keep in mind is the fact that they are playing with someone else’s creative baby and that they should respect the fact that they are putting their hands in something they do not own and did not originate. I hope you enjoyed my little exposition on the topic of this underrated literary genre. I was a privilege for me to share my thoughts on the subject.


Follow Jason at:






I recently completed a five thousand word short story for an anthology. I used to only write short stories until last year and since then I’ve really only written novels so it was interesting to go back to writing shorts. It is certainly a different discipline, you have to cram everything in, keep the interest, build character and have a well-rounded story in but a few pages. Something I’ve noticed in short stories that take them from being merely a glimpse into a small scene and turn them into a more complete story is theming.

By this, I mean when an author introduces certain themes in from the very beginning and subtly keeps them up throughout, it helps to tie the story together. For example, the short story I just completed was about a fireman (the guy who stoked the fire of a steam engine) who is on a journey which ends with him flying off on the back of a dragon. Throughout the text I have several themes in place. The colour black – the fireman is coated with soot, the people on the train are all dressed in black and the dragon is a black beauty. Also the theme of fire is prevalent though not profuse. Finally there are themes in dialogue, the instructions that the engineer barks at our hero at the beginning of the journey are the same words the fireman uses to command the dragon at the end.

Now I’m not saying that I’ve written the best piece of literature in the world here, but I’ve had good feedback from it, and I’m as sure as can be that the theme’s therein are a large part of its success. The trick is to include themes without making them obvious. You can’t simply keep repeating one concept, themes need to be weaved into the narrative subtly, they need to be seamless to work.

You can take this approach and apply it to novels as well, keeping themes spread throughout a book helps to tie one chapter to the next, one character to another and to bring the whole book together. A good example of themes in books – specifically in character – is the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, drugs and alcohol are consumed frequently by our hero. The theme of justice through use of intelligent deduction rather than heroic muscle power, Holmes does not rush around town beating up the bad guys, he outwits them at every turn.

Alternatively, if you prefer a more modern example then let’s look at Harry Potter. Arguably the largest themes in the books are love, family, and death. For a more subtle theme, consider that none of the Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers last more than one year in their post.

Themes are important in stories and the very best writers will include them without even knowing they’re doing it. It is easy to go overboard though, so take heed.

Write on!

The Underdog Genre

When I began writing my erotic romance book,  I started it for no reason other than I had this story in my head that wouldn’t go away. I viewed it simply as an exercise in writing with no intention of writing a whole book, let alone a series, and certainly wasn’t considering publishing. Well here we are several months later, the first book is out, the second is half way done and the series will be a trilogy – this damn story just will not go away.

What I have learnt since embarking on the next phase after the first draft was completed – you know the phase no-one tells you about, the networking, the marketing, et cetera – is that erotica is generally looked down upon by the literary elite. I tell my authorly friends that I’m publishing an erotic romance and watch their noses screw up in disgust. I know why. There are lot of badly written books in the world, especially when it comes to erotic works. It is very easy to write a bad erotic book with one dimensional characters (and that’s being generous) and a non-existent plot. Add to the fact that erotic books – in spite of having a humongous audience – are still seen as a guilty pleasure, a naughty taboo, something people just don’t admit to reading. Most writers who do publish erotica do so under a pseudonym. So for me to stand up and proudly announce that I’ve written one and stuck my name on it in big letters, people look at me like I’m mad.

But guess what folks? I’m not. I approached this book as with any other. I began first and foremost with the characters. I’ve said before that the thing readers connect with in a book is the characters. Not the plot, not the worldbuilding, not the situations – the characters. I didn’t even start to think about sex (even though there is a sex scene right at the beginning of the story), until I knew a lot about who my starring people were. Then followed the plot, which is born from the characters and their needs and desires, then the worldbuilding and so on. The sexy parts of the story are entirely relevant to the plot. This – I hope – is what takes my work, and any other good erotic story, and sets it apart from the plethora of ‘bad’ erotica out there.

Additionally, my approach to the actual naughty bits was considered. I avoided the overly graphic descriptions, any that you might spot are sparsely scattered and carefully placed. You can write erotica without being vulgar. Neither do I sugar coat it, I call a spade a spade, nobody gets ‘deflowered’ the sexy parts are sexy.

Am I still glad to have stuck my name on it? Absolutely. I stand by the work. I’m not ashamed of it in any way shape or form and if you think I should be then you are the one with the problem, not me.

Here’s to good erotic literature. It is looked down upon, sneered at and thought of as the underdog genre. Pushed to the darkest corner of bookshops (if at all) and condemned as poor writing for horny housewives by literary snobs who secretly like a good hard hump just as much as anyone else. Don’t discount erotic work without first reading one of high-calibre, and if you don’t know where to start, I can make a good recommendation ;)

Check out the look inside feature and see if you get hooked…


Write on!


You know what I most often get stuck on when I’m writing? Details. I don’t mean details within a scene, how it looks or what’s going on. I mean thematic and plot details. Allow me to clarify with an example:

character (a) has problem x, y, and z,

character (b) needs to do 1, 2, and 3,

character (b)’s item 2 conflicts with character (a)’s problem x and z

if I allow character (b) to achieve item 3 then that will screw up problem y for character (a)

This is an oversimplified version of what I’m talking about, but you get the gist.

Now, I know there are programs in the world that have been designed with issues such as this in mind, that writers can use (*cough*, scrivener, *cough*) but I don’t need/want a computer to resolve things like this for me. I have always simply done it in my head. That was all well and good for a short story, novella or even one whole book. As I near the end of the full length trilogy, it’s becoming trickier to keep a tight handle on everything.

That’s the thing that plagues writers, we introduce all these elements into our stories, all these layers of conflict which makes for an entertaining read (we hope) but are a nightmare in reality. It’s like having a bunch of beautifully crafted kites in the air at one time while a hurricane blusters past and you try in vain to not let your strings cross and keep all those creations from crashing down into a tangled mess. It’s exhausting, frustrating and sometimes depressing.

What’s the solution? I don’t have a simple answer I’m afraid. I tackle it by doing frequent re-reads, going over and over what I’ve already put in place to ensure I remain consistent. Sure, an editor should be able to pick up on places where a writer misses something or makes a mistake, but I don’t like the idea of handing off responsibility for that to someone else, that’s just sloppy and lazy in my opinion.

So, if you’re a writer then feel free to share your advice on how you tackle such complications in writing in the comments, I'd love to hear other peoples approaches.

Write on!


I’ve read a good number of books. Some are fine, some are awful, a rare few are brilliant. I’ve taken a lot of time to think about what things make a book “good”. Of course it’s an entirely subjective issue as no two people appreciate the same things in the same ways. I adore Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, I know other people who just can’t see the appeal of them. So it’s difficult to pin down the exact elements that make a good story when readers have such a diverse range of likes and dislikes.

However, there are a few things that need to be right to take almost any book from blah to wow, I’ve already discussed the first and I believe, most important thing in previous blog posts – character. Another, equally important issue that is inextricably linked to character is emotion. I’ve written a good number of stories over the years that had interesting plots and good dialogue, but … they were shit. It has taken me far too long to figure out why. Only through reading a number of stories and analysing what it was that made them a thrill to read, did I start to notice what I was missing. Emotion.

Before you roll your eyes at me and say ‘oh here comes some rubbish about how every book needs a romantic subplot’ that is not what I’m talking about. We humans are emotional creatures. Emotions even exist in other species in ways that are observable and probably more complex than we can comprehend. Human beings live on an emotional level from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep – and even during sleep through our dreams. The most level-headed and detached people in this world are often the hardest to understand or make for the most terrifying people that exist.

As a reader we are actively (though not often consciously) seeking to empathise with the characters in a story and you can only do that if the author shows you how the characters feel through their experiences. Note I said ‘show’ not ‘tell’ this is a classic case of the old adage. I could write ‘Bob felt a bit peeved as Jill spoke’ which falls flat, or I could write ‘The sound of Jill’s voice was drowned out by the sound of Bob’s teeth grinding together’ – this is a rather unsubtle example, it could still be improved, but you get the point.

I often get hung up in the plot and the flow of the story and I have to go back and edit in the character emotions afterwards and only then does the story start to become something much more than just a bunch of people going through the motions.

So the moral is, your characters think and feel everything that is happening to them, don’t deprive your readers of those inner thoughts and experiences. Show the emotion.

Happy writing.